Plan Your Discipleship Process Sequentially

Do you want to develop basic disciple-making practices, but serve in a weekend-only culture?

Every church should have a clear, simple process for making disciples. Does yours?

Almost every church engages in some form of discipleship. When a pastor uses the Bible in a sermon, or a leader opens the Scriptures to a small group, the church is providing the initial phases, but lasting discipleship must go far beyond that.

If a new Christian who attends weekend worship services only asked for help in becoming more like Christ, what would your answer be? Would everyone in leadership give the same answer? Do you share a clear, simple first step? Followed by a second step?

But this is important for more than just a “new” Christian. How are you intentionally and methodically helping other believers to deepen their walk with Christ? How can you impact a “weekend only” culture and begin to instill basic disciple-making practices into your church’s life?

Solution: Plan Your Discipleship Process Sequentially

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Simple Church, by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger

The simple revolution is here. From the design of Apple products to Google’s uncluttered homepage, simple ideas are changing the world.

Simple Church guides Christians back to the simple gospel-sharing methods of Jesus. No bells or whistles required. With insights based on case studies of 400 American churches, Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger prove the disciple-making process is often too complex. Simple churches thrive by taking four ideas to heart:

Clarity. Movement. Alignment. Focus.

Simple Church examines each idea, clearly showing why it is time to simplify. This updated edition includes a new chapter with further insights the authors have gained through hundreds of conversations with church leaders since this landmark book’s original release.


Congestion on a busy highway is no picnic for commuters wanting to get to their destination. Many times it’s simply a matter of inadequate design of the highway for the number of cars currently occupying it.

Congestion in your head or chest prevents proper airflow to the lungs. Reduced airflow to the lungs means your body is not functioning as it was designed.

Congestion causes pain when traffic makes you late or shallow breaths make even simple tasks complex. Congestion in your church is painful, too. Church congestion occurs when competing programs or ministries result in lots of activity, but little or no movement in a person’s spiritual growth.

According to the Scriptures, believers should become more and more like Christ. Movement and transformation is implied, but church congestion slows or prevents growth.

One step away from a “weekend only” culture may require the decongestant of simplicity.

Simple church leaders have learned the wisdom of sequential programing. By placing the programs in sequence along the process, the programs truly become tools to facilitate the process of transformation.

As you sequentially place programs along your ministry process, here are three essentials to guide your thinking.

Order the sequence of your programs to reflect your process. In other words, the order of the programming must flow from the order of the process. If you place the programs sequentially, people will move through your process simply by moving from one program to the next. As people are progressing through the programming, they will simultaneously move through the process that God has given your church.

Designate a clear entry point to your process. The entry point is the first level of programming in your simple process. Without a clear entry point, there is no beginning to the process. When a process lacks a clear beginning, it is definitely not simple.

The entry point is the program through which people are most likely to enter your church. It is the weekly program that guests are most likely to attend. It is the program you encourage your people to invite friends to attend.

Identify the next levels of programming. Just as you have designated an entry point, identify the next levels of programming in your process. What program do you desire people to attend after they have been to your entry-point program? What is the program you want them to attend after that?

– Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger, Simple Church


Does your church have a simple process designed to move people along a path to maturity in Christ?

At your next team meeting, create a fictional person named Joe Grow whose life your team will use to illustrate your process. Using a whiteboard or chart tablet, create a narrative of how Joe Grow came to Christ at your church, listing programs, activities, or processes. Continue to develop the story of Joe Grow’s faith journey toward full Christian maturity.

After completing Joe Grow’s journey, step back and look at your current church programming. Ask these refining questions:

  • What potential areas of congestion or confusion appear in the gap between what should be and what is?
  • Does Joe Grow’s faith journey follow a clearly defined process?
  • Are there currently multiple processes attempting to achieve the same result?
  • Are next steps clear in each program or process?
  • Are there multiple programs for each process, resulting in divided attention and energy?

After these careful considerations, guide your leadership team to exit the congested highway of church busyness toward a simple, yet effective, pattern of disciple-making.

The real beauty in clarifying, focusing, and strengthening the disciple-making process of your church is this: the people who are growing will, by nature, take other people along with them.

Growing people grow people. Consuming people consume programs.

Without stating and integrating a simpler, intentional disciple-making process, your church will remain stuck in a bottleneck of the status quo and “weekend only” follow-ship.

With a simple but sequential process, your church can develop an effectiveness of growing disciples.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 11-2, published March 2015

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.


School Zone

…continuing this short throw-back series using the metaphor of a rockslide on I-40 on the NC/TN border that happened in 1997. That rockslide caused a lot of detours for months, and in the pre-GPS days, you had to pay attention to the road signs.

When a rockslide closes the highway, and you have to take a detour, you learn to rely a lot on road signs…

The School Zone sign signifies learning. “Learning” in the Bible is discipleship. Discipleship is a process that begins after conversion and continues throughout a believer’s life. Discipleship calls for our undivided attention and commitment to follow the commands of our Lord. Discipleship is not an option for any church or believer. Christ mandated it in the Great Commission. To disciple others is to obey our Lord’s command; to do otherwise is to disobey Him.



To understand that discipleship is not an option for believers and that it involves taking up one’s cross daily to follow Christ is to begin to understand the work of each believer and the church.

Ephesians 4:11-13 perfectly expresses God’s will for every believer as He builds His kingdom:

He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ. (The Message)

He calls and appoints persons with special gifts to equip the saints for their work in building up the body of Christ. Sadly, many churches do little to disciple believers when our Lord is ready and willing to guide and empower us to accomplish the task.

Maturing discipleship means that believers are living for the Lord in all areas of life. They take the Bible seriously and without question or compromise. The life of Christ is the center and focus of their lives.

Discipleship is God’s plan for maturing His children. We are saved by God through His grace and given to the church for care and obedience. Discipling believers requires commitment, patience, obedience, because growing and maturing believers requires time.


part of a series taken from presentations 16 years ago, introducing the Purpose Driven Church principles to a church leadership team

brought back today to connect to Auxano’s release of the first Team UP resource, featuring the Top 100 Quotes from Purpose Driven Church, with applications and exercises from Church Unique


Expanding Your Capacity

Earlier this summer, I reintroduced some thoughts on “capacity.” You can read them here.

Last night in our community group, the concept of capacity came up in our discussion of the current series our church is in. Entitled “The Prodigy in Me,” it’s all about discovering the invaluable gifts God has placed in each of us.

Picking up where the earlier post left off, our group realized last night that being emptied by serving and therefore being able to be filled again was only part of the understanding.

God wants us to have MORE capacity over time.

 If we are growing as disciples, our capacity to be filled AND to serve others should be growing as well.

How’s your capacity?